Mario Balotelli needs to start showing more of his genius, rather than playing up to his persona as the class clown, if Manchester City are to win the Premier League title this season, says Nigel De Jong.
The 21-year-old Italian has been plagued by controversy ever since arriving at the Etihad Stadium in August 2010, with his off-field antics often overshadowing all his positive contributions on the pitch.
Balotelli hit the headlines again following City's 3-3 draw with Sunderland last weekend, after a clear altercation with teammate Aleksander Kolarov over the taking of a free-kick.
Despite netting two of the Citizens' goals in that game, it was that on-field clash that has been overly scrutinised - the latest in a long list of incidents involving the enigmatic striker.
"Sometimes Mario is a fool and at other times he is a genius - there are two sides to him," De Jong told The Sun. "Lots of people expect him to pull off crazy stunts and as a result he feels he must do something.
"People like that need to have upheaval in their lives in order to perform.
"[But] he is happy in his personal relationship. That is important and it makes him more focused. But he knows that he has to become more serious-minded."
'Super Mario' as he is affectionately known by Citizens supporters, has also had his fair share of run-ins with Roberto Mancini - the man responsible for bringing him to England - after signing him from former club Inter Milan for £22million.
Despite suggestions that the player and manager's relationship has become increasingly strained in recent weeks, De Jon says that there is no unrest in the City camp, and that everybody - including Balotelli - is fighting for the same cause.
"Luckily, we have a manager who has his say, otherwise Mario would have gone off the rails a long time ago," he added.
"Problems also seem to come from the people who hang around with him."
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